What matters can the Childrens Court hear

The Children’s Court of Victoria has jurisdiction under the CYFA to hear cases involving children and young people up to the age of 18 years, and some cases, up to 19 years.

The Children’s Court has two main divisions:

1 the Family Division;

2 the Criminal Division.

Child protection and family matters

The Family Division of the Children’s Court has jurisdiction to hear a range of applications and to make a variety of orders upon finding that a child is in need of protection, or that there are irreconcilable differences between a child and their parents (where the differences seriously disrupt the care and custody of the child). In the Family Division, the court also has the power to hear applications relating to intervention orders under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) and the Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010 (Vic) where the “affected family member” (family violence matters) or “affected person” (personal safety matters) or the respondent, is a child. (See also, “Incest and violence” in Young people’s rights and responsibilities.)

Criminal matters

The Criminal Division of the Children’s Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine summarily all offences (other than offences resulting in death, see below) where the alleged offender was under the age of 18, but of or above the age of 10 years, at the time the offence was committed, and under the age of 19 when proceedings commenced in the court.

When charges arise from death – murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, child homicide, defensive homicide, culpable driving causing death, and arson causing death – committal proceedings are conducted in the Children’s Court, then the matter is heard in the County or Supreme Court, depending on the charge.

Infringement notices

Fines issued to young people (e.g. for failing to produce a valid ticket on public transport or for not wearing a bike helmet) by an infringement notice can be dealt with in the Children’s Court by the Children and Young Persons Infringement Notice System (CAYPINS) process. CAYPINS is a method of enforcing these infringement notices when the fine is not paid in the first instance. (For adults, infringement notices are enforceable through the Infringements Court system; see Fines and infringements.)

The aim of CAYPINS is to provide flexibility and discretion in decision making, taking into account a child’s age and personal and financial circumstances, and to maximise the efficient use of the resources of the court and agencies.

CAYPINS court cases are heard by the Children’s Court registrar.

The Children’s Koori Court

The Children’s Koori Court has jurisdiction to hear matters relating to criminal offending (other than sexual offences) by Aboriginal and/or Torres Straight Islander children. The Koori Court is a sentencing court; the goal of this court is to exercise sentencing options that are culturally appropriate to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in the hope of reducing the rate of reoffending. An Elder or “respected person” attends the court to give the judge or magistrate cultural advice.

The Koori Court is not as formal as the mainstream Children’s Court, so any person within the courtroom – the young person charged with the offence, their family, the Elder, the Koori Court Officer – can have their say.

To go to the Koori Court, a young person must be pleading guilty or have been found guilty. The young person must also want their case to be heard in the Koori Court.

The Children’s Koori Court is currently sitting at:

Melbourne Children’s Court

Bairnsdale

Hamilton

Latrobe Valley

Mildura

Portland

Shepparton

Swan Hill

Warrnambool.

For address details, visit the website.

The Children’s Court – Koori Court

Tel: 9032 0942

Web: www.childrenscourt.vic.gov.au

Neighbourhood Justice Centre’s Children’s Court

The Neighbourhood Justice Centre’s (NJC) court sits as a Children’s Court (the Criminal Division) on the first Friday of each month. The NJC court has jurisdiction to hear matters relating to people who live in the City of Yarra. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a strong connection to the area may also have their cases heard at the NJC. Homeless people can also have their cases heard at the NJC, if the alleged offence took place in the City of Yarra or if the person is residing in short-term accommodation in the City of Yarra.

Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC)

241 Wellington Street, Collingwood Vic 3066

Tel: 9948 8777

Email: njc@justice.vic.gov.au

Web: www.neighbourhoodjustice.vic.gov.au

Contacts and resources